tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 4, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight, crisis in cairo. hundreds of thousands back in the main square, but does this mean there's been a change. plus the latest on that stranded american, mary thornberry. sacked by snow, ice and cold. a surprising and dangerous blast of winter in america's super bowl city, just as the fans are streaming in for the game. out of work and losing hope. new numbers tonight about jobs and how long a lot of americans have been out of work. all systems go as gabby giffords works at rehab, her husband has made a big decision about his day job. and some of what we witnessed during this extraordinary week. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening back home in new york tonight. and tonight the cairo we left behind seems very different. then, again, every day in this 11-day drama has been very different. the protesters called today the day of departure, meaning president mubarak's departure, but that was wishful thinking on their part, as he is still in place tonight. there was some violence today, but it was more peaceful and a lot of the protesters took part in friday prayers. the strange thing was those mubarak supporters, the thugs, the street gangs, seemed to disappear today just as suddenly as they first appeared earlier this week in such awful fashion when we saw those ugly scenes of violence with egyptians attacking fellow egyptians. so what did today mean and where are we headed possibly after this eventful week?
our chief foreign correspondent, richard engle, remains on post tonight in cairo. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the day began tense. the protesters were bracing for violence. it never really happened. president mubarak may be adopting a new strategy, patience. several hundred thousand gathered after friday prayers to denounce president hosni mubarak and celebrate their unprecedented 11 days of continuous demonstrations. families were back out. it was peaceful, well organized, even joyous. the protesters are greeting new arrivals by singing and cheering them on, saying that mubarak will go, we will not go. unlike the supporters of president mubarak, who have attacked and chased down dozens of reporters, the anti-government protesters welcomed the media. one man today held a sign that said in arabic "thank you
facebook." the protesters called today the day of departure, the day mubarak would leave. >> leave now, not tomorrow. >> reporter: that didn't happen. but the demonstrators are gaining legitimacy here. egypt's defense minister visited tahrir today before most of the protesters arrived. it was the clearest indication yet that the military is protecting the protesters. a movement egypt's vice president said only yesterday was led by islamic groups and foreign journalists, conspiring to bring egypt to chaos. for the first time, the army established an effective defensive perimeter around tahrir to avoid a repeat of wednesday, when mubarak loyalists, goon squads, attacked demonstrators on horseback, with rocks, molotov cocktails and bullets, until the protesters fought back and held the square. today, the wounded in that fight were paraded through the square,
honored for their sacrifice in what is now being called here the battle of tahrir, liberation. a man proudly showed us where he was hit by rocks and a shotgun. but while the army defended the protesters today, u.s. officials tell nbc news most of president mubarak's top advisers, including from the military, are not telling him he needs to step down or leave the country. the army is still looking for an elegant solution, a combination of reforms and dialogue that would satisfy both sides. for now, mubarak's strategy may be just to wait out the protests, if he can. today his prime minister said the protests can continue as long as there's no violence. but u.s. officials worry an ongoing crisis is not in egypt's or the united states' best interests. cairo is growing more lawless. violent confrontations continue today, although it was kept away from tahrir square. groups like the muslim
brotherhood are gaining ground, while the country remains in chaos. and the uprising is spreading panic to other u.s. allies in the region. perhaps for that reason alone, the revolt in egypt was embraced today by iran's ayatollah khamenei. it's an especially odd endorsement since iran depressed a pro-democracy movement in 2009. the iranian regime won that fight. egypt's future remains uncertain. president mubarak now may face a new rival. the popular secretary general of the arab league spoke in tahrir square today. he's someone to watch. and, brian, that crackdown on journalists we spoke about the other day is still continuing. al jazeera reported that its offices were ransacked by pro-mubarak supporters and an egyptian journalist who was shot last week has died. >> richard engle who along with our team on the ground remains in cairo. tough place to do business these days. richard, thanks.
for the first time in more than a week, president obama took reporters' questions about egypt today, but no matter the question, the president was clearly being careful still about what he said and how he said it, as the administration has been all week. our white house correspondent, savannah guthrie, was there and is with us from there tonight. savannah, you can see the frustration growing and you can see the words changing day by day. >> reporter: and the intensity with which those words are spoken. this is an administration also working feverishly behind the scenes, telephone diplomacy happening at all levels of the government. the secretary of state hillary clinton called the egyptian foreign minister and tried to reach the prime minister as she flew to munich. what's clear tonight is the u.s. wants a caretaker transitional government backed by the military until free and fair elections can be held. there are various proposals out there about who could lead such a government, including the vice president, omar suleiman, the backing of the military is key here. what's also clear is that the administration does not think
mubarak should or could hang on until september. but today in public the president stopped short of directly telling mubarak he has to leave right now. instead he appealed to mubarak as a statesman to do the right thing. >> i believe that president mubarak cares about his country. he is proud, but he's also a patriot. the key question he should be asking himself is how do i leave a legacy behind in which egypt is able to get through this transformative period and my hope is, is that he will end up making the right decision. >> reporter: the president also condemned the intimidation of reporters and human rights activists, saying the world is watching egypt right now, brian. >> savannah guthrie at the white house at the end of this week. savannah, thanks. we have an update tonight on 76-year-old mary thornberry of the united states who thought she was living in the safest possible place in egypt. nice real estate, just off the main square. she instead found herself
fighting off intruders, thugs, street gangs, defending herself inside her own apartment as the protests heated up. lester holt is in amman, jordan, tonight and has been reporting on her plight. lester, what do we know about mary's whereabouts and her safety tonight? >> reporter: we know some good news, brian. i spoke to her family just a few minutes ago. we can confirm she was escorted from her apartment near the square, near the violence, sometime last night after curfew. her family heard from her today in an e-mail. she doesn't have a cell phone, doesn't have a computer. she borrowed a computer of someone's at the airport in cairo and said i'm okay, i'm at the airport, i'm very, very tired. the e-mail unfortunately went to her son's work address. he didn't get it until later so wasn't quite sure whether she got on a flight or not. we have subsequently learned that she is likely in a hotel in a much calmer part of cairo tonight. they hope to finally connect very soon and get all the details.
in terms of how she got out of that apartment, we're not quite sure. her family will only say there were some individuals who came to her rescue, people who became aware of her plight, but they don't want to be identified. we hope to meet her in person very, very soon and get more on all of this, brian. the good news, she is out of that apartment, out of harm's way tonight. >> all right, lester holt in amman, jordan. lester, thanks. now, back here in the u.s. where for a lot of us this weekend means just one thing. we plan to be seated for much of sunday to watch the super bowl. it's different, of course, if you have tickets, and it sure is different for those folks this year because of snow and ice and cold and problems getting to the game in dallas. janet shamlian has our report tonight from cowboys stadium in arlington. >> reporter: several people were injured, one critically, when huge chunks of ice like this fell from the roof of cowboys stadium this afternoon. just the latest worry for officials hosting this weekend's super bowl. after being coated in ice and
blitzed by arctic air for two days, mother nature sacked the dallas area again today. up to a half foot of snow. runways blanketed and planes iced over, dfw cancelled more than 700 flights and love field closed, just as tens of thousands of football fans were trying to travel in. temperatures are usually in the 50s and 60s this time of year, but with all this snow and ice, packers and steelers fans may be wondering if they're still in green bay or pittsburgh. >> it's what we're used to in pittsburgh at this time of the year, so it's kind of like being at home again. >> reporter: in houston, a rare ice storm effectively shut down the nation's fourth largest city. at least three died on the roads and paramedics delivered a baby at one accident along an icy highway. in new mexico, a state of emergency, as tens of thousands were without natural gas, facing freezing temperatures with no heat. emergency shelters are opening.
back in north texas, with a brand new billion dollar stadium as a backdrop, there's a lot on the line. the super bowl will bring more than 150,000 visitors, who will spend some $350 million. even in the snow. >> you know, we welcome people big in texas, and here you go. we wanted you guys to feel at home, right? >> reporter: the misery should be a memory within the next 48 hours. temperatures are expected to gradually warm up and the snow should melt by game time on sunday. brian. >> probably best either way to stay home, crank up the tv. janet shamlian outside the stadium tonight. janet, thanks. we got the jobs report for the month of january this morning, and some of the numbers are puzzling. just 36,000 jobs were added to the nation's payrolls. about 110,000 fewer than expected, but look at this. at the same time, somehow the unemployment rate dropped sharply to 9%. that's an important number, it's a big deal. experts say severe weather and other factors have complicated the overall picture, but so many
people have been looking for work much longer than they expected to. nbc's john yang has our report tonight from chicago. >> reporter: tony warren hasn't had steady work since he was laid off from his video production job two and a half years ago. he's burned through his savings and sold his motorcycle and more. >> i'll go around the house and just go we don't need that, we don't need that, we don't need that and i'll put it up on ebay. >> reporter: last month he and his wife, deanne, got help to pay the mortgage from their pregnant daughter and her husband. >> this is hard for me because it's very humbling. but we come down and there's $500 sitting on our desk. and deanne and i look at each other and go "where did that come from?" >> reporter: so many have been out of work so long the government is now tracking people who have been unemployed for as many as five years. the average length of unemployment is nine months, an all-time record. >> we've just never seen anything like this since the great depression.
having this severe of job loss that's lasted for this long has translated into unprecedented lengths of unemployment. >> reporter: the toll is more than just financial. >> it starts wearing on you. you question your ability as a person, you know, what's wrong with me. >> reporter: psychologist reginald richardson says he sees depression and anxiety in people out of work for about a year. >> as their unemployment continues, then we see even greater symptoms. people having rage, greater frustration, disappointment, hopelessness. >> reporter: warren stays hopeful by volunteering at the same food bank he relies on for affordable meals. >> we're going to make it through this. >> yeah. >> come hell or high water, we're going to make it through it. >> reporter: looking forward to the day he can start to pay back all the help he's getting from those around him. john yang, nbc news, chicago. when we come back tonight, congresswoman gabby giffords' husband, the astronaut, makes a big decision about his own future in space. and later, the scenes you
hard to believe it's been almost a month since those awful shootings in tucson, and for captain mark kelly, the husband of congresswoman gabby giffords, in the background of all of it he's been through, a decision whether to return to his job and return to space commanding the space shuttle in a mission that's scheduled for april. today he made up his mind, and nbc's tom costello has the story. >> she's doing very, very well. >> reporter: wearing a blue wrist band that reads "peace, love and gabby," mark kelly said both her family and his were unanimous. it's time for him to return to space. >> i know her very well, and she would be very comfortable with the decision that i made. >> reporter: kelly declined to describe his conversations with giffords or her condition,
saying only she spends eight hours a day in rehab. but with her recovery surprising even her doctors, kelly last week asked nasa for permission to rejoin his crew and prepare for their april mission. after some simulator and cockpit time this week, nasa agreed. >> it is the best thing for our mission to have mark be the commander. >> reporter: on the orbiting space station, mark's twin brother, scott kelly. >> i think my brother is doing about as well as anyone could expect in this type of a situation. >> reporter: for mark kelly, who spent 18 months training, this will be his fourth and final shuttle mission. in space he'll have e-mail, phone and perhaps even a video link with his wife and family as giffords' mother makes decisions about her care. today kelly responded to critics who say he should remain grounded with her. >> they don't know her very well, so they don't know what she would want. she is a big supporter of my career, a big supporter of nasa.
she really values the mission of nasa. >> reporter: meanwhile in tucson today, volunteers began wrapping up and boxing the thousands of cards, flowers and tributes to the victims of last month's attack as a city and a husband try to find some normalcy. tom costello, nbc news, washington. up next here tonight, watching and waiting. the people in this country who have special reason to be watching very closely what's playing out in egypt.
back now tonight to our top story, the story we covered firsthand all week in egypt. think of what it's like to watch the coverage for the nearly 150,000 people living in the u.s. who were born in egypt. they're watching closely. they have a lot to say about it. our report tonight from nbc's mara schiavocampo. >> reporter: a world aware from cairo's tahrir square, a show of solidarity in new york's times square. a couple of miles away in new york's little egypt, a tight-knit community of egyptian americans run businesses and send their kids to school. this couple moved here nine years ago and opened a restaurant, but these days they can't think much about the business and spend much of their time frantically checking on family back home in cairo. >> do you worry?
>> yes, too much. >> reporter: even their 8-year-old son, mohammed, is anxious, scared his cousins and grandfather may be killed in the street violence. >> sad and a little bit confuse1 because i thought egypt was peaceful. >> reporter: as the crisis in their country escalates, many gather in restaurants and smoke-filled coffee shops day after day, transfixed by news from home. those here overwhelmingly side with anti-government protesters who want president mubarak to leave office immediately, not at the end of his term. >> he's only buying time. >> does seeing all of this make you want to be there and be a part of it? >> yes, i do. >> reporter: almost 150,000 egyptians live in the u.s. over the last week, thousands have rallied in support of the uprising in cities from all over the country, from d.c. to chicago to los angeles. others show support in smaller ways. ahmed mustafa wants everyone to
know exactly how he feels. >> i'm trying to do something like that. i'm telling to tell please no more. >> reporter: one of many egyptians standing together although they may be so far away from home. mara schiavocampo, nbc news, new york. >> and when we come back, what on forever from this past week while the whole world was watching.
finally tonight, millions and millions of people in this country have been following the drama in egypt every day, in some cases every hour. it was incredible to witness it, difficult to process it, impossible to know how it ends. it turned from joyous to brutal in an instant. it may be changing again. but there were moments from this past week that may be indelible no matter what future egypt itself might face in the end. something enormously important is happening half a world away from us tonight. >> i want another president for egypt. >> there is now nothing less than chaos in the center of cairo. >> waves of thousands of protesters rushed riot police, who drove them back with water
cannons and, more often, tear gas. >> people are being injured. we have seen several collapsing so far today. >> when army armored vehicles rolled into cairo, they seemed to take no action against the demonstrators. >> we've been afraid and now no one is afraid now. >> egypt is spinning out of control. >> american tourists and diplomats are getting out. >> i was ready to go. >> this is what a civilian resistance looks like. everyone is expressing something. >> the young people and the internet, they started this revolution. >> that's the end. that's the end of mubarak era. >> mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in september. >> the country is going down the drain unless mubarak understands that he needs to go by the end of the week. my fear is that the whole situation will go bloody. >> we love our president, but he is a liar. >> the atmosphere suddenly turned sour and toxic and is still disintegrating tonight.
>> you just saw someone hit by a molotov cocktail and is trying to put himself out. >> the sun can't come up fast enough for cairo. >> tahrir square has become a primitive, fortified camp for demonstrators. it's a bizarre scene with protesters defending the square with molotov cocktails and even firebombs, like a medieval castle under siege. >> we want to see this moment of turmoil turn into a moment of opportunity. the entire world is watching. >> they are watching thanks to some very good journalists working in cairo tonight in hostile conditions, make no mistake, and that work will go on and the reporting will continue. and so on behalf of our team on the ground there, that is our broadcast for this friday night and for this week. thank you for being here with us for all of it, and it's good to be back on home soil. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be with you this weekend from amman, jordan. we, of course, will look for you right back here on monday night.
in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> bottom line, the reason i cam to the s came to the city is to make a difference. >> at 6:00, a community in need of consistency and hope gets a boost of confidence. oakland's police chief announces he is staying. but there is more to the story. good evening. thank you for joining us on friday evening. i'm raj mathai